Project ECHO’s work in India and Africa are examples of successes in digital health in LMIC’s. In India, where we have 33 Hubs across 11 states addressing over 20 disease areas, the ECHO Model has been widely adopted and recognized as a low-cost highly effective model for building capacity in rural and underserved communities, increasing the access to this quality and cost-effective care. To amplify access to care, we partner with the Ministry of Health on 5 national programs focusing on Eliminating Tuberculosis, Viral Hepatitis C, Cancer Screening, Mental Health, and a National Health Systems Resource Center. These areas traditionally have been treated by specialists, but with far too few specialists, rural and underserved communities often don’t have adequate access to this care. Key to building this capacity lies in task-shifting, and training, using the ECHO Model, Primary Care Physicians, Nurses, ASHA workers, etc to provide this specialty care.
In Africa, we started with a pilot in Namibia and have since spread to 12 countries across many disease areas. In partnership with the Africa CDC and the African Union, we have a Global Health Security Program using the ECHO Model to implement international health regulations in 40 countries across Africa.
When the pandemic came along, with national networks already in place, we were able to pivot and quickly start addressing COVID-19 preparedness, response, and care.
These examples illustrate the importance of building capacity through task shifting, and partnering with local experts to be culturally relevant and build trust in the community.